February 28, 2024

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The EU’s GDPR – opportunities outweigh the challenges in ASEAN

GDPR – The European Union’s data protection regulation which was introduced in May 2018 to regulate the usage of data of its citizens by companies within its member states has not only had a major effect in its own region in terms of data, privacy, security, transparency and how we communicate to mention a few, but it’s had a major knock-on effect here in South East Asia.

GDPR does not just apply to member states in EU, any organisation worldwide which processes or holds data of EU residents must comply. The European Union’s GDPR Data Protection laws have made countries across the globe look at their own data protection regulations and for many regions, it has presented challenges – for example, here in South-east Asia, many countries have many different regulatory frameworks and even some countries without a regulatory framework at all.

South-East Asia trades heavily with Europe, hence it is necessary to adapt and comply. For Singapore, many businesses have had to adapt to GDPR as Singapore is the EU’s largest commercial partner in ASEAN, accounting for slightly under one-third of EU-ASEAN trade in goods and services.

Other governments in South-East Asia are moving to adapt. GDPR has helped countries throughout the region develop a similar regulatory platform to ensure that their citizens and their national and local businesses can operate globally.

GDPR Encouraging ASEAN interoperability

GDPR has indirectly meant many of the ASEAN countries have revisited and adapted their own data protection regulations and many have chosen to follow a similar framework.

The Singapore Data Protection Act (PDPA) shares many of the same principles with Europe’s GDPR in that they both require all communications regarding data collection, data processing or disclosure of data to obtain customer consent.

Malaysia has a similar PDPA which they are reviewing. Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said that companies need to act now, particularly because legislation such as the new EU GDPR can impose considerable penalties for non-compliance of regulations. He also said that Malaysia needs to be on par with global legislation on data protection because Malaysians are not just exposed to local retailers and other parties looking to use their data for a variety of purposes. Indonesia is also reviewing their policy with the other ASEAN countries following suit.

The digital landscape has encouraged ASEAN interoperability and it recently saw the signing of a regional E-commerce agreement. Singaporean Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that his agreement will help bolster trust and confidence among ASEAN consumers in e-commerce. It will enable ASEAN businesses to grow domestically, regionally and globally.

New Industry Growth – ‘RegTech’

With Southeast Asia becoming the hub for hi-tech solutions to privacy challenges, government and businesses need to collaborate to develop a regulatory landscape for this new industry sector to flourish. This new sector, regulatory technology, dedicated to help tackle privacy issues, compliance and cybersecurity has led to a surge of interest in AI innovation and development from companies and governments wanting to solve and manage these regulatory compliance issues. Providing a new economic opportunity for ASEAN.

I recently had the honour of presenting at DigiTec in Brussels in November at the European Commission. I spoke to many peers there, and they spoke of the success of their framework and toolkit: the European Interoperability Framework and of their eagerness to bring this knowledge and experience to Asia. And it seems that ASEAN could benefit from this toolkit, to help assist interoperability between the nations on GDPR.

Technology is the only way forward

It must be acknowledged that not all businesses in ASEAN have adapted easily to the new regulations, but looking at the bigger picture GDPR is presenting itself as a real opportunity:

  • New industry sector growth – regulatory technology (data, privacy, security services and solutions)
  • Bringing not just the region together, but the world together under a similar regulatory framework.
  • Kickstarting a new era for technological innovation in AI. Helping governments tackle regulatory requirements, tackling privacy issues but also being used as a tool to reach out and boost engagement by respecting and better communicating with all citizens.
  • The necessity to comply with these regulations it means that technology is the only way forward.

GDPR does represent a challenge and at the same time an opportunity. Now it is up to our governments and businesses to each find a regulatory balance which protects the privacy of its citizens but promotes the opportunities this new regulatory technological sector brings.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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